For the Second Sunday of Easter 2020 – 19 April – our virtual service with Rev. Geoff McKee again has text and audio elements.
You’ll find below the Readings and Prayers as text. Geoff’s sermon is presented as audio, which you can listen to via the player below or download (mp3 format) for listening “on the go” if you wish.
Today’s main Bible reading concentrates on one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, and the story of how he was only convinced of Jesus’ resurrection by meeting the risen Jesus and examining the wounds in Jesus’ hands and in his side from the crucifixion.
At the time of the story, the disciples were living under lockdown, for fear of reprisals from the authorities now that their leader was apparently dead. The similarities to our current experience in that respect are obvious.
Geoff considers a variety of matters, including:
- Statistics about the effect the social distancing measures are having on personal welfare in the UK and how our closeness to nature in Lossiemouth can be a real blessing just now;
- Why Thomas was not a ‘bad’ disciple;
- Why it’s natural and acceptable for Christians to have doubts about their faith;
- Why doubt and faith are not opposites of each other; and
- How confronting our doubts and bringing them along with us on life’s journey can lead us to a deeper faith.
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
John 20:19-31 (New International Version)
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus Appears to Thomas
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The Purpose of John’s Gospel
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
A miktam of David.
1 Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.”
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”
1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise to God for a Living Hope
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Call to worship and Prayers
Call to Worship
Blessed be the God of our Saviour, Jesus Christ! For although we have not seen him, we love him; and although we have not seen him, we believe in him.
Glorious God of all, you are the giver of new life. You are the one to whom we owe each breath. You are the reason for our hope. Send your enlivening Spirit, be present with us as we come close to you, seeking your light to see what has been revealed, seeking your warmth to set hearts aglow with your love, seeking your truth, that we might trust. As we proclaim the Easter gospel, that in you is life which conquers death, make us anew your beloved children.
Merciful God, we confess that too often we have lived lives of those not worthy to be called your children. Though you are light, we have preferred to lurk in shadow, though you are truth, we have made idols of lies and falsehood, though you are love, we have been hard of heart. Too often you show us the Way, and we have wandered far off course. We turn to you with repentant hearts, and seek your forgiveness. We lay claim to your promise, and pray that you will transform us, re-make us, that we will live as your children, and by word, thought and deed, we might lead lives worthy of subjects within Your kingdom of love, peace and mercy.
Prayers of Thanksgiving
God of bountiful blessing, we thank you for the promise of Jesus Christ, who is the Life by which we live, and the perfection of your holy glory. We thank you for the faith to believe that which we have not seen, and for your mercy upon us as we clumsily grasp the significance of your love. We thank you for your sustaining strength as we try to lead lives which reflect your glory, and for your ever-present Spirit as our guide, helper and advocate. With thankful hearts we give you praise.
Prayers of Intercession
Lord God, we offer our prayers for those whom we trust will be fed by your goodness: who will be nourished by your presence.
We pray for all people around the world in fear of the coronavirus and its effects. We remember those who mourn the loss of loved ones and those who are fighting for their lives. We pray for all in the NHS and in the care sector who are exposed to the virus, yet steadfastly commit to remain with those for whom they care. We pray for all who support their work and for those who continue to work in order to ensure that the nation is fed and resourced. We remember those who struggle under lockdown; who feel exposed to other threats. May you draw near and breath your comfort and peace.
We pray for all those growing: for young people who so often are at the heart of a story of faith that we can overlook. We trust them to Your nurturing, and we pray that all those involved in the lives of young people and children will empower them to flourish today and tomorrow.
In all our prayers, we pray trusting in Your sure and certain promise, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
Header image (Sanderling Sprint (Lossiemouth West Beach)) by Nicky Mack.